Miss Florida Citrus Advances to Miss America Pageant

Ernie Neff Awards, Citrus

Miss Florida Michaela McLean, left, and Brenda Eubanks Burnette

Miss Florida Michaela McLean of Clermont loves Florida orange juice. “I don’t have a choice,” she says with a laugh.

After all, she comes from a fifth- generation citrus family. Her father is Ben McLean III, a board member of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation. She has helped customers in her grandfather Benny McLean’s u-pick grove and rung up their purchases. McLean and some of her cousins even appear in a several-years-old photo on the back of the Uncle Matt’s Organic orange juice carton. Matt McLean, CEO of Uncle Matt’s, is her uncle.

“I’m a big fan of investing in my health by drinking organic Florida orange juice,” she says.

Prior to becoming Miss Florida on June 29, McLean was Miss Florida Citrus. A highlight of her Miss Florida Citrus reign was meeting growers at this year’s Florida Citrus Mutual annual conference in Bonita Springs in June.

As Miss Florida, “I will continue to shine light on the citrus industry and be involved in citrus-related activities,” McLean says.

McLean, 21, will compete in the Miss America pageant in September. She says the event will be televised on NBC on an as-yet unannounced date.

McLean graduated from the University of Alabama with a double major in dance and public relations.

“She’s (McLean) an outstanding young woman who’s as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside,” says Brenda Eubanks Burnette, executive director of both the Miss Florida Citrus Pageant and the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame. “I can’t wait to cheer her on at Miss America.”

Burnette was a Florida Citrus Queen in the years before the pageant was revamped as Miss Florida Citrus. One of her duties now is to set up appearances for Miss Florida Citrus. She worked with McLean in preparation for the Miss Florida Pageant.  

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large